On Sunday the 10th, the day after my last post, while I was at the library, R. called her Aunt Pat in Largo, down in Pinellas County, north of St. Petersburg. Uncle Ray was in the hospital again, and it didn't sound good. We must go down for a visit.
We left on Tuesday morning, driving down out of the red hills of Leon, joining Highway 19 at Perry for the long ride south through a monotonous corridor of pine trees and cabbage palms. The great majority of traffic south uses harrowing Interstate 75, which goes down the middle of Florida, through Lake City, Gainesville, and Ocala, before turning west towards Tampa. I like a more relaxed pace, preferring lonely Highway 19. Its 65 mph limit seems plenty fast for me.
We stopped for lunch in Cross City at the Cypress Inn, pulling in among enormous pickup trucks. Workingmen browsed the buffet, crews eating together. The burgers and fries were passable, the service was good. The Cypress Inn is the only place I've ever actually seen Freedom Fries and Freedom Toast on a menu. I've forgotten why Americans are supposed to be mad at the French. Rural Dixie County is the whitest county in Florida, and one of the poorest.
We arrived in Largo around 3:00 pm, checking in at the Hampton Inn. R.'s Uncle Art, Pat said on the phone, had arrived from California early that morning, and was resting up at the Hampton. Ray was out of the hospital and at home. We all met at Ray and Pat's at 5:00, and after some conversation, Pat fixed supper for us: pot roast, mashed potatoes, and vegetables, with brownies and ice cream for dessert.
We returned to the hotel, and walked at sundown in Largo Central Park, across the street. It was a beautiful park, but it was so hot that I was sweating by the time we got back to our room.
Largo was very familiar to me. It was much like Maitland, a suburb of Orlando where I grew up, with modest, (by today's standards), residential neighborhoods and schools, built in the '60's to house us boomer children and our parents, now showing their age. I felt a sense of appreciation for what our parents built, coming to Florida after World War Two, and raising new towns on the Central Florida scrub land. Hard to believe that was 50 years ago.
We visited again the next morning, and returned to Tallahassee later that day. We were glad to be back home, and our cat, Claudius, was happy to see us.
Back at work on Monday, my week has been all about broken equipment, reporting copiers with problems, PC's with sound issues and browser search hijack viruses, a printer with a paper jam. I've often said that they didn't tell us in library school how much time we would spend keeping all the machines in working order.